Finger Lakes - Hector District
The Finger Lakes National Forest, positioned along the ridges between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, offers scenic beauty and unlimited recreational opportunities any season of the year. Whether you are a hiker, cross country skier, camper, fishing or hunting enthusiast, snowmobiler, horseback rider, mountain biker, or wildlife watcher, the Forest can provide the recreational experience you are seeking!
The most popular season is autumn when the trees and pastures are ablaze with color. Hunter ejoy the woods and brush lands of the forest during this time. Summer is a popular time for camping, hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, and fishing. Winter brings out cross country skiers, snowmobiles, and snowshoe enthusiasts. In spring, the Forest bursts forth from the grip of winter with emerging leaves on the trees, bird flyway activity, and numerous wildflowers that are visible along many of the Forest trails and pastures. The first fishing days are enjoyed by a lot of people.
Spring is also mud season, which is usually short but intense. Going "off-road" and hiking on wet trails is not encouraged during this time.
Finger Lakes National Forest - Hector Ranger District Office Information
5218 State Route 414
Hector, NY 14841
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information
Non-motorized off-road vehicles, such as mountain bikes, are limited to trails specifically signed open to mountain bikes and Forest Service Roads open to vehicular travel.
Bicycle use is specifically prohibited on the Finger Lakes Trail (North Country National Scenic Trail), Gorge Trail, Potomac Trail, Ravine Trail, Southslope Trail and the southern portion of the Interloken Trail.
Please keep in mind:
- Many of the trails open for Mountain Biking pass through pastures - please make sure you close gates behind you!
- Trails are open to “multiple use”. Please be considerate of other users.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises
Areas for Mountain Biking at Finger Lakes - Hector District
Areas for Campground Camping at Finger Lakes - Hector District
Areas for Group Camping at Finger Lakes - Hector District
Backcountry camping is allowed in most locations on the forest unless there is a specific closure order in place for a particular area.
The following camping practices are recommended:
- Locate campsites at least 50’ from roads, trails, structures and waterbodies including ponds, rivers, and streams. This is to keep water bodies sanitary and free of pollution (such as from dish washing or human waste) and for privacy and courtesy. Campsites should never obstruct trails.
- Camping is not allowed in pastures from May 15 – October 31, due to cattle being present.
- Firewood must be purchased or collected in Seneca or Schuyler counties; Firewood cannot be brought in from outside counties/states. This is to help stop the spread of invasive species and diseases. Additional state firewood restrictions may apply.
Please follow the princliples of leave no trace:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Lake and Pond Fishing
Fishing is allowed at all ponds on the Finger Lakes National Forest. In order to fish, you must have a valid NY fishing license if you are over 16 years old, and follow all New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) guidelines and regulations. More information can be found on the DEC’s website:
Popular Fishing Ponds on Finger Lakes National Forest
This pond is located off of Potomac Road about ½ mile north of Picnic Area Road. This pond hosts our annual youth fishing derby each spring for children that are 2-12 years old (contact us for more information if you’d like your child to participate!). Before the derby, the pond gets stocked with both brook trout and rainbow trout of various sizes. These trout are typically catchable until mid-June. Brown bullhead are present in the pond and can be caught throughout the year.
This pond is located on County Road 1 (Searsburg Road) about ¼ mile east of Potomac Road. This pond is accessible. Ballard Pond gets stocked with brook trout in the spring and has bass and small panfish throughout the rest of the year.
This pond is located on Potomac Road, directly across from the Chicken Coop Road intersection. There is a short ¼ mile hike to the pond from the parking area. Foster Pond is stocked with brook trout each spring.
Sassafras pond is located between Picnic Area Road and Terry Berry Road. There is no designated trail to the pond, but it can be accessed by hiking through Forest Service land off of Picnic Area Road. Parking is available at the Ravine Trail parking lot. Sassafras Pond has largemouth bass that can be caught throughout the year.
Caywood Point, located at the end of Fossenvue Trail, is on Seneca Lake and many different fish species can be caught from the point depending on the time of the year!
Areas for Day Hiking at Finger Lakes - Hector District
Areas for Backpacking at Finger Lakes - Hector District
Areas for Horse Riding at Finger Lakes - Hector District
Areas for Viewing Scenery at Finger Lakes - Hector District
Areas for Snowmobiling at Finger Lakes - Hector District